When Isaiah Washington was fired from his role as Dr. Preston Burke on ABC's Grey's Anatomy in 2007 for using homophobic slurs not once, but twice, in public, "everything just fell apart," the actor said in a recent interview with The Huffington Post.
"After the incident at the Golden Globes, everything just fell apart," he said. "I lost everything. I couldn't afford to have an agent …I couldn't afford to have a publicist …I couldn't afford to continue."
At the time, the 50-year-old actor had used a derogatory term in reference to his Grey's costar T.R. Knight during an on-set argument, calling him a "f---ot"; Knight later came out as gay.
Washington used the anti-gay slur again backstage at the Golden Globes. After much public outrage, he was fired. He moved temporarily to a village in Sierra Leone when he discovered that he had genetic ties to the Mende and Temn people in the area.
He has been a chief in a village there since 2006, known to his villagers as Gondobay Manga II.
"For the last six years of my life, I've been fighting off bigots," he told The New York Times, claiming that he has never been a bigot himself. "It's, like, bigots want to embrace me, and I politely take their arms from around my neck. I don't share their views, never have."
In fact, Washington will next return to the big screen in Blackbird, which he calls an "African-American gay coming-of-age story."
"I've been so incredibly blessed," he told the Times of his career thus far, and being able to return to the industry. "I've worked with some of the greatest professionals in town. I stood at the Golden Globes. I worked with Sandra Oh, bro! My life has been great."